Mediating
the Ecological
Imperative

SNSF Sinergia 2021 – 2024

Coordinating Principal Investigator (Lead)
of the SNSF Sinergia “Mediating the Ecological Imperative”
Subproject: “Formations of the Ethical Imperative: From Postmodernity to Relational Aesthetics and the Contemporary Period, 1960–2019”

Peter J. Schneemann is full professor at the Institute of Art History at the University of Bern and director of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art History. Since his fellowship at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz one of his areas of research concerns the modes of mediating the ecological urgency. His research interests include: American art history, discourse analysis, paradigms of art observation, ecology, art education, archive processes, display, and museology. One of his latest publications is: Localizing the Contemporary. The Kunsthalle Bern as a Model, 2018.

Prinicipal Investigator of the SNSF Sinergia “Mediating the Ecological Imperative”
Subproject: “Ecological Imaginaries: Eco-Ekphrasis in Twentieth- and Twenty-first Century North American Fiction”

Full Professor and Chair of North American Literature and Culture at the University of Bern. She also serves as vice dean and, since 2019, as a member of the Swiss National Science Council. She has held fellowships at Sidney Sussex College (Cambridge), at the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies (Cologne), and at UCLA. Her research interests include intermediality, ekphrasis in contemporary Anglophone literature, the environmental humanities and cultural sustainability. Selected Publications: Cultural Sustainability. Perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences (2019, with T. Meireis) and Handbook of Intermediality (2015).

Principal Investigator of the SNSF Sinergia “Mediating the Ecological Imperative”
Subproject: “Indigenous Futurisms: Counter-publics in the Slipstream”

Professor for Social Anthropology with a focus on Media Anthropology at the University of Bern. Michaela trained as a documentary filmmaker and currently heads the graduate programme SINTA – Studies in the Arts. She held research posts and fellowships at Harvard University, GCVA at Manchester University, UCL – University College London and at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Bologna. Her research interests and publications include reenactment and religious performances, trance cults (particularly in the Mediterranean) as well as artistic research and experimental ethnography.

Principal Investigator of the SNSF Sinergia “Mediating the Ecological Imperative”
Subproject: “Political Geo-Aesthetics of the Anthropocene: The Production and Distribution of Paradigmatic Visual Formulae Representing Human Impacts on Earth”

Peter Krieger, Ph.D. (art history, Hamburg University), since 1998 Research Professor at the Institute of Aesthetic Research, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). 2004 2012 vice president of the International Committee of Art History, CIHA/UNESCO. In 2016 Aby Warburg Professor at the Warburg Haus Hamburg; in 2017 visiting professor at the universities of Regensburg and Tübingen. Research and publications on the political iconography, aesthetics and ecology of city and landscape, and on the neo-baroque in the 21st century (Visual Epidemics. Las Vegas Neo-Baroque in Mexico City; 2017).

Advanced Postdoc and Coordinator of the SNSF Sinergia “Mediating the Ecological Imperative”
Subproject: “Formations of the Ethical Imperative: From Postmodernity to Relational Aesthetics and the Contemporary Period, 1960–2019”

After receiving his PhD in Art History at the University of Basel in 2014, for which he received the “Wolfgang-Ratjen award”, Toni Hildebrandt has been working at the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art History at University of Bern since 2014. He was a guest lecturer at University of Basel, the University of the Arts in Bern, the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel and New York University, and he held fellowships at the Istituto Svizzero in Rome (2013-2017), the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich (2019) and the Walter Benjamin Kolleg (2020/21) at University of Bern.

Doctoral Students

(MA, Goethe University Frankfurt)

Subproject: “Formations of the Ethical Imperative: From Postmodernity to Relational Aesthetics and the Contemporary Period, 1960–2019”

Dissertation project: “Out of Space – Into Space. A phenomenological analysis of aesthetic environments: space exploration in artistic-scientific projects from the 1960s – today”

Holding degrees in Cultural Studies (Zeppelin Universität, Friedrichshafen), Art History and Curatorial Studies (Goethe-Universität & Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste – Städelschule, Frankfurt/Main), Alice Gustson is interested in shared problem areas of artistic work and scientific research. With a focus on the visual arts from the 1960s onwards, she explores and questions the relationship between (ecological) aesthetics and epistemology. In her PhD project she will investigate artworks operating with and as natural and artificial environments and address them as sites of documentation, models of speculative realities and imaginative future scenarios.

(MA, Boston University)

Scholarship of the China Scholarship Council (CSC); Associate in the Subproject: “Formations of the Ethical Imperative: From Postmodernity to Relational Aesthetics and the Contemporary Period, 1960–2019”

Dissertation project: “Mapping the Smellscape of Altermodern: Olfactory Art and Multidimensional Art History, 1960-2019”

(MA, University of Bern)

Subproject: “Ecological Imaginaries: Eco-Ekphrasis in Twentieth- and Twenty-first Century North American Fiction”

Dissertation project: “Word/Image Relations and the Ecological Imperative in Contemporary North American Literature: Towards a Theory of Eco-Ekphrasis”

Jonathan received his MA from the University of Bern in 2021. His thesis, The Sublime Encounter with Waste in Don DeLillo’s Underworld: Discards, Death, and the “Sting of Enlightenment”, examined Underworld’s aestheticization of waste. In 2020, he participated in The Unknown Factor: Literary Echoes in the Work of Lee Krasner, a collaboration between the English Department at the University of Bern and the Zentrum Paul Klee. Research interests: Description in 20th and 21st century North American fiction, intermediality and ekphrasis, landscape art, and ecological narrative.

(MA, UNAM, Mexico City)

Subproject: “Political Geo-Aesthetics of the Anthropocene: The Production and Distribution of Paradigmatic Visual Formulae Representing Human Impacts on Earth”

Dissertation project: “Dismantling the Capitalocene Era: Political Iconography of Socio-environmental Struggles, Ecofeminism, and Geoparks. Modes and Formats to Rethink Extractivism”

She holds a BA in History and MA in Art History, specialized in Curatorial Studies at UNAM. In 2015 she received the Miguel Covarrubias Award on Museography and Museums Research (INAH) and in 2019 Honorary Mention for Best MA Dissertation on Water Resources (UNAM). From 2017 to 2018, she was Chief of Research and Curator in the project “M68 Citizens in Motion”. In 2020 she worked as an Academic Coordinator at the Institute of Aesthetic Research in Oaxaca. Her current research interest is the relation between climate change narratives, visual culture, and ecological conflicts in the Americas.

(MA, University of Manchester)

Subproject: “Indigenous Futurisms: Counter-publics in the Slipstream”

Dissertation project: “Burnt Creek: Collaborative eco-audiovisual approaches to indigeneity and multispecies assemblages in northern Québec mining communities”

Andrea Bordoli has a background in Visual Anthropology (MA, University of Manchester), Visual Arts – Cinema (BFA, HEAD – Genève), and Anthropology and Philosophy (BA, Neuchâtel University). Combining anthropological research and audiovisual media practice, his work explores human-environment relationships and multispecies entanglements in sensitive and remote territorial ecologies. Following multiple fieldworks on agro-hydro-electric Swiss alpine landscapes, he currently focuses on extractive industries, more-than-human ontologies and indigeneity in Canadian Sub-Arctic territories. His works have been presented in academic settings and exhibited in film festivals and art spaces nationally and internationally.

Project Partners

Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, UNAM, Mexico City

Dr. Canet obtained bachelor’s (1996) and doctor’s degree (2001) in Geological Sciences in the University of Barcelona. He did a postdoc (2001-2003) at UNAM’s Geophysics Institute. He is specialized in hydrothermal systems, including ore deposits and geothermal activity. The results of his research are published about 80 papers focused on fluid-rock interactions and ore-forming processes. Since 2014 he promoted the designation (2017) of the ‘Comarca Minera’ UNESCO Global Geopark. He is member of the Scientific Board of the International Geoscience Programme, UNESCO.

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles

Prof. Dr. Léon is an anthropologist whose research interests include theories of violence, materiality, Latin American migration, photoethnography, forensic science, and archaeology of the contemporary. He directs the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a long-term study of clandestine border crossing that uses a combination of ethnographic, archaeological, visual, and forensic approaches to understand this phenomenon in a variety of geographic contexts including the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona, Northern Mexican border towns, and the southern Mexico/Guatemala border.

Director at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

He held the chair of art history at Trier University from 1998 to 2003. His numerous guest professorships took him to Paris (EHESS), to Rome (Bibliotheca Hertziana), Vienna, Basel, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Jerusalem, Mendrisio, Harvard University, Lugano, Chicago University, Istanbul, Delhi and Zurich. Since 2008 he has been honorary professor at the Humboldt University Berlin. He is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften and the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat, since 2013).

Chair of American Studies, Department of English and American Studies, University of Augsburg

Founder and co-director of the Environmental Humanities interdisciplinary research network at Environmental Science Center at the University of Augsburg (since 2015). Full Professor and Chair of American Studies at the University of Augsburg from 1991-2018. He has been a guest professor at Brandeis University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Vermont, Birkbeck College (UCL), and Ege Universitesi Izmir (Izmir, Turkey). His publications include Literature as Cultural Ecology: Sustainable Texts (2016) and Handbook of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology (Ed., 2015).

Research associate

Dr. Alexandra researched and wrote the social anthropology intervention for the Sinergia proposal and has been involved in project discussions since the beginning. Her current SNSF research project, Between Two Rivers: Hydro-social Poetics of Care, positions the Sonoran Desert as a vital place from which to study contesting theories of futurity. Within this landscape of deadly migration policies, extractive surveillance infrastructure, and some of the most unique ecological networks in the Americas, the research aims to learn from the multiple stakeholders who are imagining more equitable and livable futures.

Public Outreach

Ralf Beil was born in 1965 in Kobe, Japan, studied art history, German literature and philosophy in Freiburg i. B. and in Paris, and wrote his dissertation on the subject of food as a material of art. From 2006 to 2015 he was the Director of the Institut Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt. He received the Justus Bier Prize for Curators in 2012. From 2015 to 2019 he was the Director of the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. Since May 2020 he is the General Director of the The Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site.

Artistic Research

George Steinmann is visual artist, musician and researcher. His artistic practice is transdisciplinary oriented and involves fieldwork where he investigates Cultural Sustainability, Climate Change, Biodiversity, Local Knowledge of Indigenous Cultures and the Ecologies of Forests and Water.